The Navigator: 4.22.2021

THIS SUNDAY, 4/25

  • Sammy continues his sermon series on the family.  This Sunday, he teaches what the Bible says about divorce.
  • Our Youth Pastor Search Team begins meeting – pray for them.
  • Quarterly Business Meeting @ 5pm.

 

ON THE HORIZON

  • Prayer Warriors Dinner – May 5th; 6pm; FLC
    • Daniel records that during his prayer, “The angel I had seen in the earlier vision (Gabriel) came in swift flight. He said, ‘Daniel, as soon as you began to pray an answer was given.” (9:23)
    • Mary, Queen of Scots, said of Reformer John Knox, “I fear the prayers of John Knox more than an army of 10,000 men.”
    • In his book,  Prayer: Does It Make a Difference, Philip Yancey writes, “Why pray?  Because Jesus prayed.  And he prayed as though it made a difference.”
  • 414
    • May 19th; 6pm – Ministry Event off campus (potentially Nat Williams Elementary)
    • May 26th; 6pm – Ministry Event on campus

 

THE ART OF WELCOMING & THE 7 LAWS – LAW NO. 1

  • THANK YOU for joining me this past Sunday!  I have already sent you all the Student Notes.  But, so you might have access to those notes online, I posted them on my blog, where scriptures and references are sourced and linked.  You can access them here.
  • In August, we’ll reconvene to sort through the next few Laws: Expectation, Application & Retention.

 

HOW GREAT THOU ART

This photo below is of galaxy cluster Abell 2218 as imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope. The massive cluster contains about 10,000 galaxies, and resides 2 billion light-years away in the constellation Draco. Credit: NASA

Oh Lord, my God; When I, in awesome wonder, Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made. I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed. Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee, How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

 

FREEDOM FROM RELIGION

Please don’t believe everything you read online.  Especially stuff like this:

[Religion is nothing more than] “myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”  FFRF (Freedom From Religion Foundation)

Frankly, I couldn’t agree more with the FFRF.  Why?  Because they completely misinterpret the soul and message of the Christian faith.  As a result, they’ve confused religion with Christianity.  Let’s clear this up, ok?

Aren’t you glad that Christianity, as opposed to ‘religion’:

  1. isn’t based on myth but on actual history?
  2. isn’t based on superstition but on actual eye-witness testimony?
  3. doesn’t harden the human heart but softens it?
  4. doesn’t enslave the mind but liberates it?

Biblical Christianity isn’t based on religion (man’s pursuit of God), but on Christ (God’s pursuit of man).  There’s a huge difference.

We are saved not by rules, but by relationship – a relationship made possible by the Cross and the Empty Tomb. nw

 

COURAGE BEGETS COURAGE

I rarely, if ever, post politically on social media.  Consequently, what you read below is not a political statement – it’s a biblical one.

As I was doing research on the insanity of ideologies such as  Critical Race Theory  this past week, I posted the following on social media.  (you can read the article that prompted by post here)

More and more, I find people afraid to stand up for truth for fear of ‘retribution by the mob.’

As corrupt politicians grandstand, placating to the noise of chaos, and as philosophical garbage continues to be shoved down the throats of the masses, I can promise you this:  you will never find me shrinking from standing boldly for that which I hold to be biblically true.

From the article reference above:

“Above all, we must have courage – the fundamental virtue required in our time.  Courage to stand and speak the truth.  Courage to withstand [pejorative] epithets. Courage to face the mob. Courage to shrug off the scorn of elites.  When enough of us overcome the fear that currently prevents so many from speaking out, the hold of [force-fed political ideologies] will begin to slip. Courage begets courage.”

The reformer, Martin Luther, who knew well the courage required for standing for freedom and truth, said,

“Peace if possible; truth at all costs.” (In other words, never elevate unity above truth. Unity void of truth has nothing to do with biblical unity, but rather is mere uniformity. I have even seen churches fall into this trap.)

And most are familiar with this quote by George Orwell:

“The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.”

Finally, Gandalf encouraged Pippin (from The Lord of the Rings),

“Courage will now be your best defense against the storm that is at hand.”

Don’t ever fear bullies.  Stand courageously and boldly.

I’ll gladly lead the way.  nw

 

WHAT YOUR BIOLOGY TEACHER DIDN’T TELL YOU ABOUT DARWIN

Darwin had a lot to say about the origin of species, but nothing to offer regarding the origin of life.  Yet, that doesn’t stop people from setting him up as the stalwart bastion of all-things-biology.  I recently re-read an article I have in my files titled, What your biology teacher didn’t tell you about Charles Darwin.  It’s excellent.  You can read the article here.

 

QUOTE of the WEEK

Oh, I love this quote.  Sola Gratia! Sola Fide! Solus Christus!

And…

“Whatever keeps me from my Bible is my enemy, however harmless it may appear to be.” – A.W. Tozer

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

 

SOUL FOOD:  The Basics of Life

This week’s ‘blog’ is in the form of a classic music video: “The Basics of Life’ by 4 Him.  A former student of mine (from the mid 90’s!) tagged me a couple of days ago in a social media post because one of our Dnow’s  used this song and title as its theme.  It appears those teens/now adults have never forgotten it.  The song is one of my all-time favorites from the Christian music genre.  My former student wrote, Today this song is even more true, this world is changing and so full of craziness! This song has such a strong foundation meaning to me for so many reasons.”  Enjoy, nw

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 4.16.2021

THIS SUNDAY, 4/18

  • Sammy continues with Pt. 2 of his current series, Family Matters
  • Keep praying over your ‘maps’ and ‘lists.

 

THIS SUNDAY!  Sunday, April 18th; 5pm; Rm 108

  • Please make plans to attend.  I’m asking that all Sunday School/Small Group leadership make this a priority.
  • You have my word that I won’t break the 11th Commandment, ‘Thou Shalt Not Bore.’  I guarantee your teaching skills will be enriched, your heart will be encouraged, and your mind/thinking will be challenged.
  • Plus,…. it’s just going to be downright fun.

 

I was asked last Sunday by Sharon Faber (one of Dana’s assistants in our childrens ministry) if she could stop by this Sunday morning, 4/18, just for a minute and visit with your class about our needs for VBS which is fast approaching in June.  If this doesn’t work for you would you please email me and I will share with Sharon?

 

TOP TWENTY TIPS FOR TURNING CHRISTIAN CHILDREN INTO ATHEIST ADULTS

No’s 11-15. For No’s 6-10 please see last week’s Navigator.

The list comes from Sarah Salviander who possesses a Ph.D. in Astrophysics and raised with an atheistic worldview.  The list can be easily translated into our ministry to adults.

  1. If you insist on studying the Bible as a family, make sure it’s as boring and confusing as possible.
  2. Don’t encourage or teach your children how to study the Bible on their own.
  3. Don’t discuss the basics of Christianity with your children. Assume they picked these up through osmosis.
  4. Assume that a superficial understanding of the Bible is the only thing children need to be prepared for life in a world desperate to turn them away from their faith.
  5. Assume that vacation Bible schools and mission trips alone will prepare your children for the relentless challenges to faith they’ll face in the world.

 

A Nugget of Truth from this week’s time of Learning:  John 21The Restoration of Peter

We started our adventure with John, the eye-witness of Jesus, a year ago.

This week, after reviewing all we’ve learned the past year, we looked at the beautiful and tender restoration of Peter.

Following Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples endure a long night of fruitless fishing on the Sea of Galilee.  Jesus appears on the beach, the disciples finally recognize him and hurry to see him.  Jesus has prepared a fire and they all enjoy breakfast together.  Then, Jesus looks at Peter and says, “Let’s take a walk.”  Peter must have been simultaneously filled with joy and shame (for his denial of Christ, three times no less.)

But, Jesus had no intention of lecturing or scolding Peter.  His sole purpose was to restore Peter.  It’s impossible to read this story without being moved emotionally and spiritually.

Have you ever felt you’ve done something so bad God would never forgive you, must less continue to use you?  Nothing could he further from the truth.  You can watch the lesson in its entirety below.

 

THE HEAVENS ARE TELLING…

“This most beautiful System of the Sun, Planets, and Comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being.” – Isaac Newton

Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing. – Isaiah 40:26

 

BY THIS ALL WILL KNOW

It’s not by our vocation, our position in a church, our church attendance, our teaching/preaching skills, our talents, or economic status.  Indeed, Paul wrote,

I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Jesus didn’t mince words when he said,

By this all will know you are my disciples, if you love one another. (italics mine)

***Loving one another in no way equals agreeing with one another on controversial topics. Jesus loved more than anyone in human history, yet vehemently disagreed with many.

It is entirely possible to disagree strongly and, simultaneously, love deeply. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. That said, love one another.

 

PRAYING FOR CELEBRITIES

I have several specific celebrities I pray for that they would place their faith in Christ.

And when I see celebrities who take a bold stance for their faith I thank God for them and ask him to use them mightily.

So, when I stumbled upon these tweets from ‘Mr. T’ I was overjoyed! (Of course, Mr. T is going to be bold among the famous – who’s going to mess with him??)

One of my favorite lines from Rocky 3:

Reporter asking Mr. T about the rematch with Rocky: ‘Do you have a prediction for the rematch?’

Mr. T: ‘Pain’.

Now?

Reporter: ‘Mr. T, what is your prediction for Satan?’

Mr. T: ‘Pain’

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

The devil is able to print in our heart so manifest a lie that we would swear a thousand times that it was an undeniable truth.  – Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians – “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”  (Proverbs 14:12 & 16:25)

Truth does not mind being questioned.  A lie does not like being challenged.

We don’t need to disagree less, we need to disagree better. – Arthur Brooks

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

Priceless advice for all men: The Difference between Complete and Finished…

If you find the right woman – you’re complete.

If you find the wrong womanyou’re finished.

If the right woman finds you with the wrong womanyou’re completely finished.

 

SOUL FOOD:  Psalm 119 – Side B

Most know this grand psalm for Side A.  But Side B is just as important.  Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 4.8.2021

THIS SUNDAY, 4/11

  • Sammy begins a brand new series on the family!
  • Exciting announcements regarding our ‘For the Kingdom’ debt retirement campaign.
  • Don’t forget to continue your ‘maps & lists’ to help you stay mindful of those in your oikos who need Christ.

 

OH, THIS IS GOING TO BE GOOD!  Sunday, April 18th; 5pm; Rm 108

  • Please make plans to attend.  I’m asking that all Sunday School/Small Group leadership make this a priority.
  • You have my word that I won’t break the 11th Commandment, ‘Thou Shalt Not Bore.’  I guarantee your teaching skills will be enriched, your heart will be encouraged, and your mind/thinking will be challenged.
  • Plus,…. it’s just going to be downright fun.

 

THE RISE OF THE ‘NONES’

Our staff has been enjoying researching and discussing the current North American church climate.  It is no surprise that regular church attendance has greatly declined (despite the vast majority of Americans claiming they believe in God.)

But the intriguing demographic that continues to steadily grow is what sociologists call ‘nones’.  In short, ‘nones’ have no religious affiliation.  They’re not connected to any church, but they’re not hostile to church either.

Dr. Holly Ordway was the Dean of the School of Christian Thought & Apologetics at HBU when I was in grad school there. She is brilliant and a former ardent atheist. In her book, ‘Not God’s Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms,’ she wrote,

Atheists, ‘nones,’ and fallen-away Catholics are not ignorant of the existence of the Gospel; they just find it dull, incomprehensible, or meaningless. This presents a fundamentally different problem than sharing the Gospel with people who have never heard it before. …We have to be answering the questions people actually have, not the ones that we think they should have, or that we happen to feel most confident addressing.”

“…they just find it dull, incomprehensible, or meaningless.”  (Ouch)

This is yet another reason why we’re coming together on April 18th to sharpen our teaching and shepherding skills.

***By the way, I strongly recommend Dr. Ordway’s book, Apologetics and the Christian Imagination: An Integrated Approach to Defending the Faith.  I consumed it in very little time.  There is a reason stories like Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia connect so deeply with so many.  We all have an innate longing for adventure.  Yet, for most of us the adventure takes place primarily in our God-given imagination (have you ever thought of how our imagination is a precious gift from God?).  The arts and stories draw us in and, as Dr. Ordway asserts, “they give meaning to the data.”  In other words, as a picture says a thousand words, the arts and stories help us better understand the meaning of the data/content being taught. This is precisely why Jesus taught so often in parables, appealing to the imagination of the people by telling stories about sheep, vineyards, salt and light. The late atheist ,Christopher Hitchens’s brother, Peter (a Christian) once said, “You will have more success connecting with an atheist with poetry than with debate,” meaning their heart will be touched, allowing their mind to be open.  Is it a coincidence that our Bible contains so much poetry (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, and more)?  🙂

 

I’M SITTING IN & LEARNING WITH YOU (sort of)

  • Twice I have joined a class on Sunday morning at 9:15.  And twice I’ve been late getting back for the invitation at the end of the 9:15 worship service.  The problem?  The teaching and learning is so good I don’t want to leave!
  • So, for now, I won’t be attending classes at 9:15.  But, since I don’t normally lead music in the late service, I should be able to continue to sit in with the 10:45 classes (and the one class at 8am).  I’ll contact you before I show up.

 

TOP TWENTY TIPS FOR TURNING CHRISTIAN CHILDREN INTO ATHEIST ADULTS

For No’s 1-5 please see last week’s Navigator.

Sarah Salviander has a Ph.D. in Astrophysics who was raised with an atheistic worldview.  Although her list here is directed toward the worldview of children, I’m sharing it with you because you can easily translate it into the worldview of adults.  We must “know our stuff”, or we might well end up serving as someone who helps a seeker believe that atheism is the more intelligent and reasonable worldview.  Here are No’s 6-10:

  1. Avoid teaching or talking about science to your children.
  2. Tell them science is a tool of the enemy.
  3. Avoid talking about reasoned philosophical arguments for claims in the Bible.
  4. Ignore Paul’s admonition to test everything. Teach your children that all philosophy is vain and deceptive.
  5. Don’t make a regular family activity out of reading and discussing the Bible.

 

A Nugget of Truth from this week’s time of Learning:  John 20Doubting Thomas

NOTE: Wed evening classes conclude next week, 4/14.

Thomas gets a bad rap.  This is the same man who, earlier in John’s gospel, was willing to die with Jesus.  Further, in this familiar passage in John 20, Thomas demonstrates he is a critical thinker.  As such, I resonate with Thomas.  A lot.

Notice that when Thomas doubts, Jesus doesn’t scold him.  Rather, he tenderly met Thomas at his point of weakness.  Oh, how Jesus loves you and me – even when our faith is fragile.

So, is it ok to doubt our faith?  I’m glad you asked.  For the answer, see this week’s Soul Food blog below.

You can watch this week’s lesson in its entirety below. **It includes a defense of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

 

QUOTE of the WEEK

“All their life in this world and all their adventures had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”― C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

Saw this just before Easter.  I couldn’t stop laughing…

For those who can’t make out what it says:

  • 1958: Easter Bunny portraits become popular in the U.S.
  • 1959: Child psychologists’ offices are invented.

 

SOUL FOOD:  For those who’ve ever doubted your Christian faith.

Read the blog here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Navigator: 4.1.2021

Per April Fool’s Day…

Every April Fool’s Day my mind is drawn to the scripture above.  My years of ministry, grad studies in Christian Apologetics, and my own effort to prove there is no God has all led to one conviction:  the evidence for the existence of God is overwhelming.  In short, I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist.

Then, per Easter Sunday…

THIS SUNDAY, RESURRECTION SUNDAY!

  • Three morning worship services: 8:00; 9:15; 10:45
  • All Sunday School classes meet at regular times.
  • Please, if possible, consider attending one of the two earlier services.  Families like the one in which I grew up, who attend once a year, tend to attend the later service.  We want to make sure there’s plenty of room for everyone.

 

WHAT DO AMERICANS ACTUALLY BELIEVE ABOUT THE RESURRECTION?

Well, the answer is both good and not so good.  Interviewed in this article is Rebecca McLaughlin, an outstanding scholar and apologist for the Christian faith. She grew up in the UK and holds a Ph.D. in English literature from Cambridge and a theology degree from Oak Hill College in London. Her book, ‘Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World’s Largest Religion,’ is one of the best contemporary resources I’ve read on this topic.  This LifeWay resource article quotes her throughout. Read the article here.

 

I’M SITTING IN & LEARNING WITH YOU

  • This past Sunday – I joined the Transitions Class.
  • This coming Sunday – onto the Travelers.

 

  • Sunday evening, 4/18; 5pm; Rm 108
  • Content is of great importance.  But where teachers often fail is in how we communicate that  content.  What standard of measure are we using to let us know if we are truly connecting and our class is truly learning?

 

TOP TWENTY TIPS FOR TURNING CHRISTIAN CHILDREN INTO ATHEIST ADULTS

Sarah Salviander has a Ph.D. in Astrophysics.  She was raised with an atheistic worldview.  Ironically, it was her study of the cosmos that led her to faith in Christ.  She is a brilliant professor and author.  Although her list here is directed toward the worldview of children, I’m sharing it with you because you can easily translate it into the worldview of adults.  We must “know our stuff”, or we might well end up serving as someone who helps a seeker believe that atheism is the more intelligent and reasonable worldview.

I will include 5 “tips” each week.  Below are No’s 1-5.

Salviander writes:

There is a special type of atheist that deserves your attention. These atheists were raised in Christian families, and walked away from their faith almost as soon as they left their homes. Many of them are quite bitter about it. In speaking with these atheists, I noticed certain patterns popping up again and again. Things their parents said or didn’t say, things their Sunday school teachers told them, things their families modeled for them, issues their pastors didn’t address. These adult-child interactions were so spiritually detrimental it was as though these parents and pastors were consulting a manual on how to turn Christian children into atheist adults. If such a manual existed, it would read something like this.

  1. When your children ask difficult questions–especially questions you don’t know how to answer–just tell them God works in mysterious ways and leave it at that.
  2. Resist the urge to ever say “I don’t know, let’s look into that” to your children.
  3. If your children persist in asking difficult questions, make them feel bad about not having enough faith.
  4. If your children express doubts about Christianity, don’t discuss the reasons for their doubts. Just make them feel guilty about it.
  5. Don’t encourage your children to pray for boring things like faith, wisdom, and obedience to God.

 

From this past Wednesday evening:

To get to the resurrection we must first go through the crucifixion.  To arrive at the Empty Tomb, we must first travel through the Cross.  To celebrate Christ’s victory over sin, it behooves us to consider God’s wrath upon sin – placed upon Christ at the Cross.

Jesus, while transforming the Old Testament Passover meal into what we now call The Last/Lord’s Supper, by introducing God’s new covenant through Christ’s blood, was clear when he used the bread & wine as metaphors for his broken body and his shed blood, and said, “remember me.”

Wednesday evening, we remembered You can view the talk in its entirety here.

 

I HAVEN’T HAD THIS HAPPEN IN A WHILE

The last time I wrote something that went viral was in 2016 when I wrote my blog on the Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why.  It’s was viewed over 200,000 times in over 50 countries and I was interviewed by two local news stations.  Except for a few spikes in views here and there, all has been relatively quiet – until now.  Linked here is a recent blog of mine that has now been shared from my Facebook page almost 400 times.  There’s no way to know how many times it’s been shared from the sites of those 400 who shared it.  It’s a curious thing, really.  You can view the blog here.

 

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ASTRONOMY

Many people know my first aspiration was to be an astronomer.  As such, I never cease to be amazed at the order/fine-tuning of our universe.  I caught this pic with my phone while waiting at a red light the other evening. The sun looked immense and imposing as it was setting just above the horizon. It’s hard to believe (1) it’s 93 million miles from earth, (2) unlike the earth, because the sun is made up of gaseous plasma, different parts of the sun rotate at different speeds, and (3) based on how far its light has to travel to earth, the light we see from the sun is 8 minutes old. “The heavens are telling of the glory of God.”

 

  • Dana Kluzek asked me to ask if your class might be willing to provide one meal during our new format for VBS this June.
  • VBS will take place each Wed. evening in June.
  • The meal will be offered from 6-6:30 in the FLC.
  • Can your class help while these precious children learn about Jesus?  Contact Dana.

 

QUOTE(s) of the WEEK

It is important for this generation to understand that the Jesus in whose resurrection we believe is a brown-skinned, Middle Eastern Jew who broke through every racial and cultural barrier of His day. — Rebecca McLaughlin

I’ve never regretted checking up on a friend. I’ve never regretted encouraging someone. I’ve never regretted telling someone I’m proud of them & I believe in them. The world has enough critics – be an encourager. – Ryan Meadows

 

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

 

SOUL FOOD:  The Desperate Road to Hope

For this week’s devotional entry, I offer you seven and a half minutes of truth from Psalm 42 that, hopefully, will provide insight into the hope of the Empty Tomb.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick